My cousin contacted me the other day about writing a guest blog on the subject of grief. It's a topic I have covered rather extensively lately and being family she knows that I have vast experience with this subject. Trust me, that's not a brag.
I was a bit reluctant because I am so busy this week, but I was able to cut and paste some items from my blog and mix it in with some new words. She liked the short synopsis so she asked if they could use it and I agreed. However, since I have been home from work my mind has settled in on the subject of grief and her request. I mentioned over and over how we grieved for the loss of the child we thought we would have in Jude and found an amazing blessing in the child we received. I have touched on the topic that I lost my mother, my grandparents that raised me.......and Chris. I lost Chris. It was the single hardest situation I think I have ever dealt with. I have wrote on him briefly before so people will be aware of the dangers of suicide. So here is the whole story if you have heard it or read it before feel free to skip it.
When I was merely 15 years old I met the most gorgeous boy with big brown eyes and sandy blond hair. He was tall, very tan, and had the best sense of humor. However, I knew he had some problems at home and with drinking. He wasn't the "bad" boy but he wasn't the best behaved either. We had met in a counseling session because of his behavior problems and of a situation I was going through. The situation was at no fault of my own but not one I am ready to discuss in public. We instantly had a connection and began talking to each other on a regular basis. Outside our session we talked daily on the phone because there was no twitter, tweeter, or whatever it's called. In fact I answered his calls on an antique black phone like this.
No I am not joking, I lived with my grandparents and at the time I didn't have my own phone line. So therefore I sat on their shaggy blue carpet in their room, hiding behind their fluffy bed, and whispered my secrets on the above phone. We talked about our families, school, friends, and new songs. I remember singing "Oh no even downtown voices Kerry" and he laughed until his sides hurt then said "Jen it's... hush hush keep it down now voices Carry". Our phone calls turned into Chris driving with a permit over 40 miles to see me in the middle of the night (take note teens SO wrong!) As a mother I am now horrified even though I know nothing ever happened. We were innocent kids sneaking out and reaching to the stars for our freedom. We ran through the tree lined blocks in the summer air laughing and giggling. We didn't drink, we didn't do drugs, we didn't have sex, we were just teenagers. We walked through parks while we held hands just looking at the stars and talking about what might be. However, I was naive.
After summer our school started back. I went to a new school and was forced to change from high school back to middle school because the new ISD didn't recognize freshman as high schoolers. He went back to school and faced the reality of all the things that drove him to once drink. He still called me every day after school like clockwork. We would talk until my grandparents scolded me for not eating dinner and made me hang up the old black hard wired phone. I would then make my way to the kitchen and sit at the bar area while eating my dinner and waiting on the kitchen phone which looked like the below to ring. When it did I dashed to the back black phone yelling "OKAY HANG IT UP" so I could talk for another hour.
I was young, I was full of dreams, and I was impressionable. One time Chris drove with his best friend to meet my cousin and myself for a movie. She got to meet him! We laughed, listened to music, and skipped out on a movie we were suppose to be at. We were wrong, but had the best time. Looking back it all contributed to an unfortunate situation that a teen would never understand was coming.
Weeks passed and Chris became more agitated with life in general. One night on the phone he was frustrated at home, at school, and just seemed upset. I told him I was going to bed and he seemed upset so I knew he was probably coming my direction. Sure enough late in the night a scratch was heard on my window. As I pulled back the curtains I smiled at his sweet face, but knew he shouldn't be there. I complied with his request and wiggled my way through my window and down into the warm air. We sprinted down the street to his car and whisked away to the park. We sat for an hour and talked about his situation. I tried to console him and tell him that life always gets better. I told him that we probably shouldn't be sneaking out and that it wouldn't be long before we both has our licenses and we could really date without issue........then we saw lights. crap! OH NO! The police. Why wouldn't their be police? (says the adult mom in me now). We were led away ......... and I was humiliated. I was such a good girl and I came home with my tail between my legs and my grandparents wondering what I had done when all it had been was a simple conversation. However, it was against the law......it was wrong....and we got caught. We both thought there couldn't be anything worse...ever!!!
The next day I went to school tired and ashamed. While sitting in class I received a message from the office that I should call my mom........"my mom?". She passed away when I was 7.......and I knew. I received a pass and went to the pay phones..........they look like this....
and dialed Chris. He sounded horrible and desperate and said he was thinking about killing himself. Having no personal involvement with anything like this before I told him he was being irrational and to calm down. I told him I loved him but that I was exhausted from the night before and embarrassed. He seemed to calm down and then I simply said "I love you". For an almost 16 year old girl ........ I meant it. I loved him with everything my young little heart could love.
After school I had a track meet and I hesitantly went. As I was laying on the warm grass waiting my turn to run I suddenly got the worst sinking feeling. I jumped up and told the coach I have to go home NOW! I think she was so disturbed that she found one of those antique pay phones and called my grandparents to come get me. I couldn't explain what happened to them..........it was just a feeling of dread. Once we got home I immediately called Chris...but his mother answered and I hung up. HIS MOM! Why would his mom answer? He always answered? why was I such a coward?. I was shocked but not dismayed so I waited a bit longer and called again and yet again another family member answered and I hung up. I was at a loss. Then I got it..........I got the call..........from his best friend that was there the night my cousin went out with me. His name escapes me now, but he was such a sweetheart.
"Jenn........have you heard?" he asked.
"Have I heard what?" I asked, confused
"Chris died today!" he replied
"Stop. Where is he?" I asked
"No seriously Chris killed himself.........he hung himself and his mother found him" he said
I gasped because I could tell he wasn't lying. I didn't know what to say. I just started wailing and my poor old grandparents that were so sweet and kind to me were at a loss of what to do. They called family, friends, and counselors. I was inconsolable.
His funeral was awful. They wouldn't allow me to see him (BIG mistake) and when I got there they shut the casket. That church was so jammed pack with high school kids that you couldn't move a foot. Here lied one of the most beautiful kids.........gone, tragically, without reason. Done by his own hand. The funeral was sad and the burial even worse......it made no sense. Yet when everyone (except his poor family) went on with their lives I was back still grieving, still broken hearted, still wondering. I began wondering if I heard him talking to me, if I could see him in shadows, and if there was life after death. An avid Christian even the very depth of our human soul is tested when we lose someone so close. It was hard especially being so young.
After Chris died I immediately latched on to another boy who ironically had the name... Chris. My best friend James told me "It's to soon", but I ignored him thinking I knew it all......I mean teenagers know EVERYTHING! Well James was right.........it was to soon. I needed to grieve........I needed time............I needed to let go. It took a really long time and as I have mentioned before those wounds never really heal fully. I am 40 years old.......it's been 25 years and I still think of him. When I hear "Til Tuesday" on the radio or watch Pretty in Pink I let out a small giggle and a sigh. I remember a very tall, sandy blond hair, beautiful boy in a yellow shirt standing at my window. I see the fleeting life of someone that should still be here and I now think of how horrible his parents pain must have been. I think of how their grief must have been so much worse than mine even though at the time I couldn't imagine that. I think of how desperate his mother must have been ripping him from that wall and my heart cries out more than it ever could have as a teen that lost a love. I can't imagine.......I don't want to imagine. Before I married Mike I dreamt of Chris. He was older and wiser and simply said, "this is right he loves you dearly" and I finally felt at peace. I finally felt I could move on.
Now being the mom of a teen I sometimes panic because I know how rampant young emotions can be. I wonder which path I should lead Emily to while knowing she will eventually choose her own right. Let's just hope we BOTH make the right decision on which path is the best one.